I caught two new productions on their Opening Nights, on the weekend. Both theatres have good AC, thank goodness!

Two Grooms:

Big Gay North Hollywood Wedding Redux

From l, Phillip Pruitt, Evan Strand, and Evelyn Celic in “Two Grooms: Big Gay North Hollywood Wedding Redux.”

From l, Phillip Pruitt, Evan Strand, and Evelyn Celic in “Two Grooms: Big Gay North Hollywood Wedding Redux.”

How long since you’ve been to a wedding, and got tipsy on champagne at the reception? This hilarious interactive musical production is a “larger than life,” laugh a minute riot! Cleverly co-written by William Reilly (who also playfully directs, and accompanies on piano) and Ben Rovner. We are the guests at the big wedding and the reception party, as two gorgeous young men take their vows. The nutty nuptials actually take place inside St. Matthews Church, and from the moment we enter, we are treated like the friends and family of the grooms. Privy to the outspoken and zany idiosyncrasies of both sets of the grooms, families, and friends, and the goof-ups of the wedding ceremony in the church, we were ushered next door into The Crown City Theatre for cake, champagne, and the whacky wedding reception. The cast mingles with us (in character), chatting and gossiping about each other spontaneously. So much fun! As the grooms, Evan Strand as Joshua, and Phillip Pruitt as Brent, are deliciously entertaining! Dealing with family and friend “issues” on the biggest day of their lives, both are hilariously heartfelt! The homophobic father of Brent (Bob Dean), the disapproving and tipsy mother (Jodi Harrison), and military son (Rob August) turn in a trio of madly memorable performances. As Joshua’s family, his screamingly funny and obnoxious aunt (Evelyn Celic), quirky father (Irwin Moskowitz), sister (Erin Coker), and jealous ex-lover (Henry Alberto) are also maniacally nutty. Too many in the cast to comment on all, but every one in this strong ensemble deserves mention! They are: BP Major, Kurt Hansen, Kimberly Alexander, Sarah French, Kevin Held, Mario Dalto, and Maria Melnikova. (All great fun!) Technically “cool” too … fab set by Keiko Moreno, fun costumes by Tanya Apuya, snappy choreography by Evan Strand, and crisp sound by Tony Potter. Congrats to all!

Footnote:

Crown City ran this show 4 years ago with different grooms, and it was such a hit, they decided to do it again! Running through July 7 at Crown City Theatre located at 11031 Camarillo in North Hollywood (adjacent to the church). For tickets call (818) 605-5685 or go to crowncitytheatre.com.

The Guardsman

Susan Priver and Henry Olek in “The Guardsman.”

Susan Priver and Henry Olek in “The Guardsman.”

Originally written by Hungarian playwright Ferenc Molnar, this new rendition adapted by H. Patrikas Zahshevskis, is quoted as being “a comedic tour de farce about love, fidelity, and illusion” … (and a sassy serving of game playing.) Lillian Groag (Artistic Associate at The Old Globe) wears the director’s hat here, with zany and focused flair. The story plays out in Vienna in 1914 in the palatial home of noted married thespians, Max and Elena Schumann. Max, certain that Elena is cheating on him, devises a plan to disguise himself as a flirtatious guardsman, to catch her in the act of blatant infidelity. Henry Olek as the devious Max is flawlessly hysterical as the suspicious spouse with a mission. Susan Priver as the elegant and beautiful Elena, who turns men’s heads around with ease … gives a saucy femme fatale performance! David Fruechting as a devoted friend to both of them, playing a renowned theater critic named Dr. Heinrich Kraus, is captivating throughout (… and wears the period clothing with a dashing swagger.) As the devoted house servants, Kaitlin Huwe (Berta) and Bonnie Snyder (Mama) are both delightfully quirky. In wordless roles, making all of the set changes right in front of us, dressed as uniformed footmen … Josh Imlay & Chad Anthony Miller were highly entertaining. The period set was gorgeous, designed by Joel Daavid, and the period costuming was eye poppingly appealing, mastered by the incomparable Shon LeBlanc. Michael Gend (lighting), David B. Marling (sound), and Katherine S. Hunt (props master) all rounded out the “vintage vibe” with perfection. A fun filled journey back to the 1900s … that will give you more than a few laughs … Try to catch this one! Running through June 22 at The NoHo Arts Center located at 11136 Magnolia Blvd. in North Hollywood. For seats call (323) 960-4418 or go to plays411.com/guardsman.

That’s my “Theeatah Chat” for this week. More to come soon…..  


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